Paper dress inspired by Celia Birtwell

My favourite project so far I think! The brief: choose a designer and imagine you are working for them to produce a paper concept garment, with two supportive design options, that corresponds to their style and established practice. I chose Celia Birtwell for her use of bright colours and bold, playful prints. The way Birtwell and Clark brought movement into their designs in the way they were photographed and modelled really captivated me. (See Exchange Glances music video and 1960s Mod fashion show – dated now but brilliant, especially the fashion show commentary… :)) I am happy with the final result and think it fits in with Birtwell’s work. I have aimed to keep the playful factor and draw on Birtwell’s (and Ossie Clark’s) work from the 60s and 70s to today, whilst hopefully keeping it wearable within today’s trends.

The mood board and choice of colour palette (left) set the tone for the project. We had previously done observational drawing research (above) on Flora and Fauna, so in compiling this my theme became ‘Feathers and Ferns’.

In the sampling stage (below) I played around with different techniques: procion dyes, dysperse dyes, spraypaint, hand & machine embroidery, appliqué, flock and of course my beloved screenprinting with stencils and exposed screens. These were done onto a mixture of paper and fabric samples.


The final garment shape was suggested strongly early on by the sample shown on the sketchbook page above. This is it below, together with the optional 3/4 length bell sleeve and collar piece. The main design is screenprinted crepe paper (works really well for sewing and shaping). The alternative collar is silk organza printed in a larger scale variation of the main fern pattern, whilst the bell sleeve is printed stitch ‘n’ tear vilene with the original scale print but without the birds.


2 responses to “Paper dress inspired by Celia Birtwell

  1. Hello Towera! What an amazing outcome of a very interesting brief!! Well done! I miss fabric printing, such great fun!
    xx Gosia

  2. Pingback: Keeping Busy | Towera Ridley | millinery, prints, textiles·

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